Saturday, June 8, 2013

On Submission to Desire

One of the sexiest things to me is the idea of being overcome by passion. Not romance novel-type emotional passion, but physical passion--being so completely turned on that you just...fucking lose it. I love seeing, hearing and inciting someone to be so overcome and I love being so overcome as well. Nothing is hotter to me than the raw desperate desire of a choked out, "Please..."

That submission to pure wanting requires abandoning your logical brain, throwing yourself into the overpowering forces of all-out lust and hoping you'll come out okay on the other side. I think there's a kind of bravery in that. Maybe that's what is so intimate about sex with another person--you're both jumping into the void together.

It's that line between control and loss of control that's so interesting to me about artist Clayton Cubitt's video series "Hysterical Literature." The stark black-and-white videos each feature a woman sitting a table reading aloud from a book of her choosing. However, under the table, there is an unseen person equipped with a back massager who is assigned to distract the reader as she reads.

The women try to keep it together and keep reading, but as they continue, they begin to show signs of losing focus with a little gasp or a quick intake of breath or wiggling in their chair for a better position. They fight to keep their composure, but finally they have to give in, toss their heads back with a kind of "fuck it" and ride the orgasm.

Here, see for yourself below with Stormy reading from Bret Easton Ellis' "American Psycho."



In an interview in Salon, Cubitt discussed the idea for the series and his artistic vision.

"I’ve long been fascinated with the concept of control and authenticity in portraiture, especially in these modern times of personal branding, Facebook self-portraits and incessant Instagram self-documentation. What is left for the portraitist to reveal? How can we break through to something real?...These are all attempts to see something they’re not trying to show me.

On an individual level, I’m interested in the battle the sitter experiences between mind and body, and how long one retains primacy over the other, and when they reach balance, and when they switch control.  On a larger scale, I’m interested in how society draws a line between high and low art, between acceptable topics of discussion and taboo ones, between what can be worshiped and what must be hidden."

At the end, the women are instructed to re-state their names and the book they've read from. Some aren't able to do it. Cubitt said of their post-filming interviews:

"It’s quite interesting to hear about what was going through their mind as they started to lose track of what they read and surrendered to their bodies. They talk about it almost like it becomes a religious trance, and they usually have no recollection of the last half of the reading."

What do you think?

xoxox
jill

Portrait of a woman. Lina Corsino, Emilio Sommariva 1933

Thanks to Trace, who reminded me of this series on the IBWMW Facebook page.

14 comments:

Caitlin Grace said...

She did amazingly well .... considering what was going on!

Cagey-C said...

The feminist in me wants to ask questions about power and representation--about the dynamics and politics of an unseen man displaying (admittedly game) women of a very narrow range of ages and body types (unless there will be more videos in which he diversifies) in a position of vulnerability.

But there's also a part of me that is certainly always at work under that level of questioning and theorizing. And that part is very, very turned on. In that sense, the series (of which I've watched only two of the videos, so am not entirely speaking from an informed position) is absolutely fascinating. The fact that a fully clothed woman, seen from the waist up in a single take that involves no editing or manipulative soundtrack, and who is simply reading, can elicit a visceral, sympathetic response is quite powerful.

On the other hand, I am partnered with a librarian, so on that account it doesn't shock me: Reading is really fucking sexy.

Spiffy McBang said...

The first time I saw this, I didn't know what the deal was. I actually thought, "Is she, uh... ok?" That was followed by, "Oh, is she supposed to be faking an orgasm while reading? She's doing a really good job."

DERP.

William Quincy Belle said...

Ah, how fascinating to discover the many facets of our sexuality. The ultimate in experiences: to be overcome by passion: to give one's self up, to surrender. To surrender to your partner, to surrender to the moment, and to surrender to yourself.

I have seen some of the clips in this series. It is unbelievably erotic (as in exciting) to watch another human being succumb to the throes of passion. Sexual energy begets sexual energy.

I would point you to another series, Beautiful Agony. The intriguing concept is to watch the face of a person experiencing an orgasm. Just the face, nothing else. Erotic? Pornographic? I repeat that sexual energy begets sexual energy and one can be pushed over the edge by a partner going over the edge.

Wikipedia: Beautiful Agony
(I haven't paid for this site but some of the videos have been posted elsewhere.)

I'm reading. -wb :-)

Can't keep anything to myself said...

Beautiful. An amazing display of control. Until she lost it anyway. I probably would've ripped the book in half.

Random Girl said...

What an interesting experiment! To see how far a person can be pushed with desire before they are completely unable to carry on with the focused task at hand. I don't know that I would be able to so quickly compose myself, or that I would do it on camera!

not exactly "Saint" Michael said...

This is fucking brilliant! I've never been turned on so much by... a video... not by porn even (fake orgasms are so unsatisfying). God I love women! And I <3 this blog!

Lauren said...

Wow. Just wow. I've watched four of them now, and I'm at work and just had to excuse myself so I could masturbate in the bathroom, which is luckily a one person at a time bathroom and is clean. Oh my!

Jack said...

Loved this, reminds me of some personal experiences. That was fun.

in bed with married women said...

Caitlin--Lots of weird factors going on that could go one way or the other.
Cagey-C--i guess my feminist brain wasn't operational there. although now that I think of it, i would like to see a man at the table b/c yes, reading is really fucking sexy.
Spiffy--derp? do you think she's faking it?
WilliamQBelle--i am so headed over there in about 3 minutes. Thanks as always for ferreting out...more.
Can't Keep--I know. And what she was reading was so banal too.
Random Girl--Well, I actually picked that one because it was shortish, about 4 minutes. Some were 15--and likely much more realistic of an average time--but what with internet short attention spams, i picked the one that would give the general idea.
not exactly "Saint" Michael--your comment cheered me considerably. bravo.
Lauren--I love the touch that the bathroom was "clean." bravo as well.
Jack--Well, now, some time you'll have to tell us about those.

Elliot MacLeod-Michael said...

Literacy in and of itself is sexy.

Spiffy McBang said...

I think she's clearly not faking it. I derped myself for taking so long to clue in to that fact.

Jean said...

Your blog was the first I heard of this video series. She did VERY well... both in her reading, and well, achieving orgasm, as the idea of knowing it's taped and the expectation of orgasm might be enough to stop some women from getting there.

I agree with you--the idea of passion overload and finally giving into it is very sexy. Much better than the fake stuff in porn.

Adriana said...

This beginning of this post accurately described how this non-submissive person has been feeling lately.

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